Graham Barr > Convert-BER-1.32 > Convert::BER

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NAME ^

Convert::BER - ASN.1 Basic Encoding Rules

SYNOPSIS ^

    use Convert::BER;
    
    $ber = new Convert::BER;
    
    $ber->encode(
        INTEGER => 1,
        SEQUENCE => [
            BOOLEAN => 0,
            STRING => "Hello",
        ],
        REAL => 3.7,
    );
    
    $ber->decode(
        INTEGER => \$i,
        SEQUENCE => [
            BOOLEAN => \$b,
            STRING => \$s,
        ],
        REAL => \$r,
    );

DESCRIPTION ^

WARNING this module is no longer supported, See Convert::ASN1

Convert::BER provides an OO interface to encoding and decoding data using the ASN.1 Basic Encoding Rules (BER), a platform independent way of encoding structured binary data together with the structure.

METHODS ^

new
new ( BUFFER )
new ( opList )

new creates a new Convert::BER object.

encode ( opList )

Encode data in opList appending to the data in the buffer.

decode ( opList )

Decode the data in the buffer as described by opList, starting where the last decode finished or position set by pos.

buffer ( [ BUFFER ] )

Return the buffer contents. If BUFFER is specified set the buffer contents and reset pos to zero.

pos ( [ POS ] )

Without any arguments pos returns the offset where the last decode finished, or the last offset set by pos. If POS is specified then POS will be where the next decode starts.

tag ( )

Returns the tag at the current position in the buffer.

length ( )

Returns the length of the buffer.

error ( )

Returns the error message associated with the last method, if any. This value is not automatically reset. If encode or decode returns undef, check this.

dump ( [ FH ] )

Dump the buffer to the filehandle FH, or STDERR if not specified. The output contains the hex dump of each element, and an ASN.1-like text representation of that element.

hexdump ( [ FH ] )

Dump the buffer to the filehandle FH, or STDERR if not specified. The output is hex with the possibly-printable text alongside.

IO METHODS ^

read ( IO )
write ( IO )
recv ( SOCK )
send ( SOCK [, ADDR ] )

OPLIST ^

An opList is a list of operator-value pairs. An operator can be any of those defined below, or any defined by sub-classing Convert::BER, which will probably be derived from the primitives given here.

The values depend on whether BER is being encoded or decoded:

Encoding

If the value is a scalar, just encode it. If the value is a reference to a list, then encode each item in the list in turn. If the value is a code reference, then execute the code. If the returned value is a scalar, encode that value. If the returned value is a reference to a list, encode each item in the list in turn.

Decoding

If the value is a reference to a scalar, decode the value into the scalar. If the value is a reference to a list, then decode all the items of this type into the list. Note that there must be at least one item to decode, otherwise the decode will fail. If the value is a code reference, then execute the code and decode the value into the reference returned from the evaluated code.

PRIMITIVE OPERATORS ^

These operators encode and decode the basic primitive types defined by BER.

BOOLEAN

A BOOLEAN value is either true or false.

Encoding

The value is tested for boolean truth, and encoded appropriately.

    # Encode a TRUE value
    $ber->encode(
        BOOLEAN => 1,
    ) or die;
Decoding

The decoded values will be either 1 or 0.

    # Decode a boolean value into $bval
    $ber->decode(
        BOOLEAN => \$bval,
    ) or die;

INTEGER

An INTEGER value is either a positive whole number, or a negative whole number, or zero. Numbers can either be native perl integers, or values of the Math::BigInt class.

Encoding

The value is the integer value to be encoded.

    $ber->encode(
        INTEGER => -123456,
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value will be the decoded integer value.

    $ber->decode(
        INTEGER => \$ival,
    ) or die;

STRING

This is an OCTET STRING, which is an arbitrarily long binary value.

Encoding

The value contains the binary value to be encoded.

    $ber->encode(
        STRING => "\xC0First character is hex C0",
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value will be the binary bytes.

    $ber->decode(
        STRING => \$sval,
    ) or die;

NULL

There is no value for NULL. You often use NULL in ASN.1 when you want to denote that something else is absent rather than just not encoding the 'something else'.

Encoding

The values are ignored, but must be present.

    $ber->encode(
        NULL => undef,
    ) or die;
Decoding

Dummy values are stored in the returned values, as though they were present in the encoding.

    $ber->decode(
        NULL => \$nval,
    ) or die;

OBJECT_ID

An OBJECT_ID value is an OBJECT IDENTIFIER (also called an OID). This is a hierarchically structured value that is used in protocols to uniquely identify something. For example, SNMP (the Simple Network Management Protocol) uses OIDs to denote the information being requested, and LDAP (the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, RFC 2251) uses OIDs to denote each attribute in a directory entry.

Each level of the OID hierarchy is either zero or a positive integer.

Encoding

The value should be a dotted-decimal representation of the OID.

    $ber->encode(
        OBJECT_ID => '2.5.4.0', # LDAP objectClass
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value will be the dotted-decimal representation of the OID.

    $ber->decode(
        OBJECT_ID => \$oval,
    ) or die;

ENUM

The ENUMERATED type is effectively the same as the INTEGER type. It exists so that friendly names can be assigned to certain integer values. To be useful, you should sub-class this operator.

BIT_STRING

The BIT STRING type is an arbitrarily long string of bits - 0's and 1's.

Encoding

The value is a string of arbitrary 0 and 1 characters. As these are packed into 8-bit octets when encoding and there may not be a multiple of 8 bits to be encoded, trailing padding bits are added in the encoding.

    $ber->encode(
        BIT_STRING => '0011',
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value will be a string of 0 and 1 characters. The string will have the same number of bits as were encoded (the padding bits are ignored.)

    $ber->decode(
        BIT_STRING => \$bval,
    ) or die;

BIT_STRING8

This is a variation of the BIT_STRING operator, which is optimized for writing bit strings which are multiples of 8-bits in length. You can use the BIT_STRING operator to decode BER encoded with the BIT_STRING8 operator (and vice-versa.)

Encoding

The value should be the packed bits to encode, not a string of 0 and 1 characters.

    $ber->encode(
        BIT_STRING8 => pack('B8', '10110101'),
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value will be the decoded packed bits.

    $ber->decode(
        BIT_STRING8 => \$bval,
    ) or die;

REAL

The REAL type encodes an floating-point number. It requires the POSIX module.

Encoding

The value should be the number to encode.

    $ber->encode(
        REAL => 3.14159265358979,
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value will be the decoded floating-point value.

    $ber->decode(
        REAL => \$rval,
    );

ObjectDescriptor

The ObjectDescriptor type encodes an ObjectDescriptor string. It is a sub-class of STRING.

UTF8String

The UTF8String type encodes a string encoded in UTF-8. It is a sub-class of STRING.

NumericString

The NumericString type encodes a NumericString, which is defined to only contain the characters 0-9 and space. It is a sub-class of STRING.

PrintableString

The PrintableString type encodes a PrintableString, which is defined to only contain the characters A-Z, a-z, 0-9, space, and the punctuation characters ()-+=:',./?. It is a sub-class of STRING.

TeletexString/T61String

The TeletexString type encodes a TeletexString, which is a string containing characters according to the T.61 character set. Each T.61 character may be one or more bytes wide. It is a sub-class of STRING.

T61String is an alternative name for TeletexString.

VideotexString

The VideotexString type encodes a VideotexString, which is a string. It is a sub-class of STRING.

IA5String

The IA5String type encodes an IA5String. IA5 (International Alphabet 5) is equivalent to US-ASCII. It is a sub-class of STRING.

UTCTime

The UTCTime type encodes a UTCTime value. Note this value only represents years using two digits, so it is not recommended in Y2K-compliant applications. It is a sub-class of STRING.

UTCTime values must be strings like:

    yymmddHHMM[SS]Z
or:
    yymmddHHMM[SS]sHHMM

Where yy is the year, mm is the month (01-12), dd is the day (01-31), HH is the hour (00-23), MM is the minutes (00-60). SS is the optional seconds (00-61).

The time is either terminated by the literal character Z, or a timezone offset. The "Z" character indicates Zulu time or UTC. The timezone offset specifies the sign s, which is + or -, and the difference in hours and minutes.

GeneralizedTime

The GeneralizedTime type encodes a GeneralizedTime value. Unlike UTCTime it represents years using 4 digits, so is Y2K-compliant. It is a sub-class of STRING.

GeneralizedTime values must be strings like:

    yyyymmddHHMM[SS][.U][Z]
or:
    yyyymmddHHMM[SS][.U]sHHMM

Where yyyy is the year, mm is the month (01-12), dd is the day (01-31), HH is the hour (00-23), MM is the minutes (00-60). SS is the optional seconds (00-61). U is the optional fractional seconds value; a comma is permitted instead of a dot before this value.

The time may be terminated by the literal character Z, or a timezone offset. The "Z" character indicates Zulu time or UTC. The timezone offset specifies the sign s, which is + or -, and the difference in hours and minutes. If there is timezone specified UTC is assumed.

GraphicString

The GraphicString type encodes a GraphicString value. It is a sub-class of STRING.

VisibleString/ISO646String

The VisibleString type encodes a VisibleString value, which is a value using the ISO646 character set. It is a sub-class of STRING.

ISO646String is an alternative name for VisibleString.

GeneralString

The GeneralString type encodes a GeneralString value. It is a sub-class of STRING.

UniversalString/CharacterString

The UniveralString type encodes a UniveralString value, which is a value using the ISO10646 character set. Each character in ISO10646 is 4-bytes wide. It is a sub-class of STRING.

CharacterString is an alternative name for UniversalString.

BMPString

The BMPString type encodes a BMPString value, which is a value using the Unicode character set. Each character in the Unicode character set is 2-bytes wide. It is a sub-class of STRING.

CONSTRUCTED OPERATORS ^

These operators are used to build constructed types, which contain values in different types, like a C structure.

SEQUENCE

A SEQUENCE is a complex type that contains other types, a bit like a C structure. Elements inside a SEQUENCE are encoded and decoded in the order given.

Encoding

The value should be a reference to an array containing another opList which defines the elements inside the SEQUENCE.

    $ber->encode(
        SEQUENCE => [
            INTEGER => 123,
            BOOLEAN => [ 1, 0 ],
        ]
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value should a reference to an array that contains the opList which decodes the contents of the SEQUENCE.

    $ber->decode(
        SEQUENCE => [
            INTEGER => \$ival,
            BOOLEAN => \@bvals,
        ]
    ) or die;

SET

A SET is an complex type that contains other types, rather like a SEQUENCE. Elements inside a SET may be present in any order.

Encoding

The value is the same as for the SEQUENCE operator.

    $ber->encode(
        SET => [
            INTEGER => 13,
            STRING => 'Hello',
        ]
    ) or die;
Decoding

The value should be a reference to an equivalent opList to that used to encode the SET. The ordering of the opList should not matter.

    $ber->decode(
        SET => [
            STRING => \$sval,
            INTEGER => \$ival,
        ]
    ) or die;

SEQUENCE_OF

A SEQUENCE_OF is an ordered list of other types.

Encoding

The value is a ref followed by an opList. The ref must be a reference to a list or a hash: if it is to a list, then the opList will be repeated once for every element in the list. If it is to a hash, then the opList will be repeated once for every key in the hash (note that ordering of keys in a hash is not guaranteed by perl.)

The remaining opList will then usually contain values which are code references. If the ref is to a list, then the contents of that item in the list are passed as the only argument to the code reference. If the ref is to a hash, then only the key is passed to the code.

    @vals = ( [ 10, 'Foo' ], [ 20, 'Bar' ] ); # List of refs to lists
    $ber->encode(
        SEQUENCE_OF => [ \@vals,
            SEQUENCE => [
                INTEGER => sub { $_[0][0] }, # Passed a ref to the inner list
                STRING => sub { $_[0][1] }, # Passed a ref to the inner list
            ]
        ]
    ) or die;
    %hash = ( 40 => 'Baz', 30 => 'Bletch' ); # Just a hash
    $ber->decode(
        SEQUENCE_OF => [ \%hash,
            SEQUENCE => [
                INTEGER => sub { $_[0] }, # Passed the key
                STRING => sub { $hash{$_[0]} }, # Passed the key
            ]
        ]
    );
Decoding

The value must be a reference to a list containing a ref and an opList. The ref must always be a reference to a scalar. Each value in the <opList> is usually a code reference. The code referenced is called with the value of the ref (dereferenced); the value of the ref is incremented for each item in the SEQUENCE_OF.

    $ber->decode(
        SEQUENCE_OF => [ \$count,
            # In the following subs, make space at the end of an array, and
            # return a reference to that newly created space.
            SEQUENCE => [
                INTEGER => sub { $ival[$_[0]] = undef; \$ival[-1] },
                STRING => sub { $sval[$_[0]] = undef; \$sval[-1] },
            ]
        ]
    ) or die;

SET_OF

A SET_OF is an unordered list. This is treated in an identical way to a SEQUENCE_OF, except that no ordering should be inferred from the list passed or returned.

SPECIAL OPERATORS ^

BER

It is sometimes useful to construct or deconstruct BER encodings in several pieces. The BER operator lets you do this.

Encoding

The value should be another Convert::BER object, which will be inserted into the buffer. If value is undefined then nothing is added.

    $tmp->encode(
        SEQUENCE => [
            INTEGER => 20,
            STRING => 'Foo',
        ]
    );
    $ber->encode(
        BER => $tmp,
        BOOLEAN => 1
    );
Decoding

value should be a reference to a scalar, which will contain a Convert::BER object. This object will contain the remainder of the current sequence or set being decoded.

    # After this, ber2 will contain the encoded INTEGER B<and> STRING.
    # sval will be ignored and left undefined, but bval will be decoded. The
    # decode of ber2 will return the integer and string values.
    $ber->decode(
        SEQUENCE => [
            BER => \$ber2,
            STRING => \$sval,
        ],
        BOOLEAN => \$bval,
    );
    $ber2->decode(
        INTEGER => \$ival,
        STRING => \$sval2,
    );

ANY

This is like the BER operator except that when decoding only the next item is decoded and placed into the Convert::BER object returned. There is no difference when encoding.

Decoding

value should be a reference to a scalar, which will contain a Convert::BER object. This object will only contain the next single item in the current sequence being decoded.

    # After this, ber2 will decode further, and ival and sval
    # will be decoded.
    $ber->decode(
        INTEGER = \$ival,
        ANY => \$ber2,
        STRING => \$sval,
    );

OPTIONAL

This operator allows you to specify that an element is absent from the encoding.

Encoding

The value should be a reference to another list with another opList. If all of the values of the inner opList are defined, the entire OPTIONAL value will be encoded, otherwise it will be omitted.

    $ber->encode(
        SEQUENCE => [
            INTEGER => 16, # Will be encoded
            OPTIONAL => [
                INTEGER => undef, # Will not be encoded
            ],
            STRING => 'Foo', # Will be encoded
        ]
    );
Decoding

The contents of value are decoded if possible, if not then decode continues at the next operator-value pair.

    $ber->decode(
        SEQUENCE => [
            INTEGER => \$ival1,
            OPTIONAL => [
                INTEGER => \$ival2,
            ],
            STRING => \$sval,
        ]
    );

CHOICE

The opList is a list of alternate operator-value pairs. Only one will be encoded, and only one will be decoded.

Encoding

A scalar at the start of the opList identifies which opList alternative to use for encoding the value. A value of 0 means the first one is used, 1 means the second one, etc.

    # Encode the BMPString alternate of the CHOICE
    $ber->encode(
        CHOICE => [ 2,
            PrintableString => 'Printable',
            TeletexString   => 'Teletex/T61',
            BMPString       => 'BMP/Unicode',
            UniversalString => 'Universal/ISO10646',
        ]
    ) or die;
Decoding

A reference to a scalar at the start of the opList is used to store which alternative is decoded (0 for the first one, 1 for the second one, etc.) Pass undef instead of the ref if you don't care about this, or you store all the alternate values in different variables.

    # Decode the above.
    # Afterwards, $alt will be set to 2, $str will be set to 'BMP/Unicode'.
    $ber->decode(
        CHOICE => [ \$alt,
            PrintableString => \$str,
            TeletexString   => \$str,
            BMPString       => \$str,
            UniversalString => \$str,
        ]
    ) or die;

TAGS ^

In BER everything being encoded has a tag, a length, and a value. Normally the tag is derived from the operator - so INTEGER has a different tag from a BOOLEAN, for instance.

In some applications it is necessary to change the tags used. For example, a SET may need to contain two different INTEGER values. Tags may be changed in two ways, either IMPLICITly or EXPLICITly. With IMPLICIT tagging, the new tag completely replaces the old tag. With EXPLICIT tagging, the new tag is used as well as the old tag.

Convert::BER supports two ways of using IMPLICIT tagging. One method is to sub-class Convert::BER, which is described in the next section. For small applications or those that think sub-classing is just too much then the operator may be passed an arrayref. The array must contain two elements, the first is the usual operator name and the second is the tag value to use, as shown below.

    $ber->encode(
        [ SEQUENCE => 0x34 ] => [
            INTEGER => 10,
            STRING  => "A"
        ]
    ) or die;

This will encode a sequence, with a tag value of 0x34, which will contain and integer and a string which will have their default tag values.

You may wish to construct your tags using some pre-defined functions such as &Convert::BER::BER_APPLICATION, &Convert::BER::BER_CONTEXT, etc, instead of calculating the tag values yourself.

To use EXPLICIT tagging, enclose the original element in a SEQUENCE, and just override the SEQUENCE's tag as above. Don't forget to set the constructed bit using &Convert::BER::BER_CONSTRUCTOR. For example, the ASN.1 definition:

    Foo ::= SEQUENCE {
        [0] EXPLICIT INTEGER,
        INTEGER
    }

might be encoded using this:

    $ber->encode(
        SEQUENCE => [
            [ SEQUENCE => &Convert::BER::BER_CONTEXT |
                          &Convert::BER::BER_CONSTRUCTOR | 0 ] => [
                INTEGER => 10,
            ],
            INTEGER => 11,
        ],
    ) or die;

SUB-CLASSING ^

For large applications where operators with non default tags are used a lot the above mechanism can be very error-prone. For this reason, Convert::BER may be sub-classed.

To do this the sub-class must call a static method define. The arguments to define is a list of arrayrefs. Each arrayref will define one new operator. Each arrayref contains three values, the first is the name of the operator, the second is how the data is encoded and the third is the tag value. To aid with the creation of these arguments Convert::BER exports some variables and constant subroutines.

For each operator defined by Convert::BER, or a Convert::BER sub-class, a scalar variable with the same name is available for import, for example $INTEGER is available from Convert::BER. And any operators defined by a new sub-class will be available for import from that class. One of these variables may be used as the second element of each arrayref.

Convert::BER also exports some constant subroutines that can be used to create the tag value. The subroutines exported are:

        BER_BOOLEAN
        BER_INTEGER
        BER_BIT_STR
        BER_OCTET_STR
        BER_NULL
        BER_OBJECT_ID
        BER_SEQUENCE
        BER_SET
    
        BER_UNIVERSAL
        BER_APPLICATION
        BER_CONTEXT
        BER_PRIVATE
        BER_PRIMITIVE
        BER_CONSTRUCTOR

Convert::BER also provides a subroutine called ber_tag to calculate an integer value that will be used to represent a tag. For tags with values less than 30 this is not needed, but for tags >= 30 then tag value passed for an operator definition must be the result of ber_tag

ber_tag takes two arguments, the first is the tag class and the second is the tag value.

Using this information a sub-class of Convert::BER can be created as shown below.

    package Net::LDAP::BER;

    use Convert::BER qw(/^(\$|BER_)/);

    use strict;
    use vars qw($VERSION @ISA);

    @ISA = qw(Convert::BER);
    $VERSION = "1.00";

    Net::LDAP::BER->define(

      # Name            Type      Tag
      ########################################

      [ REQ_UNBIND     => $NULL,
                          BER_APPLICATION                   | 0x02 ],
    
      [ REQ_COMPARE    => $SEQUENCE,
                          BER_APPLICATION | BER_CONSTRUCTOR | 0x0E ],
    
      [ REQ_ABANDON    => $INTEGER,
                          ber_tag(BER_APPLICATION, 0x10) ],
    );

This will create a new class Net::LDAP::BER which has three new operators available. This class then may be used as follows

    $ber = new Net::LDAP::BER;
    
    $ber->encode(
        REQ_UNBIND => 0,
        REQ_COMPARE => [
            REQ_ABANDON => 123,
        ]
    );

    $ber->decode(
        REQ_UNBIND => \$var,
        REQ_COMPARE => [
            REQ_ABANDON => \$num,
        ]
    );

Which will encode or decode the data using the formats and tags defined in the Net::LDAP::BER sub-class. It also helps to make the code more readable.

DEFINING NEW PACKING OPERATORS

As well as defining new operators which inherit from existing operators it is also possible to define a new operator and how data is encoded and decoded. The interface for doing this is still changing but will be documented here when it is done. To be continued ...

LIMITATIONS ^

Convert::BER cannot support tags that contain more bits than can be stored in a scalar variable, typically this is 32 bits.

Convert::BER cannot support items that have a packed length which cannot be stored in 32 bits.

BUGS ^

The SET decode method fails if the encoded order is different to the opList order.

AUTHOR ^

Graham Barr <gbarr@pobox.com>

Significant POD updates from Chris Ridd <Chris.Ridd@messagingdirect.com>

COPYRIGHT ^

Copyright (c) 1995-2000 Graham Barr. All rights reserved. This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

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